Earlier versions of this story gave an incorrect figure for Iraqi oil production. Oil production stands at roughly 2 million barrels a day, compared with 2.6 million before U.S. troops entered Iraq in March 2003, according to U.S. government statistics. This story has been updated to reflect that corrected information.
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U.S. Has End in Sight on Iraq Rebuilding
Hundreds of millions of dollars were shifted to fund elections and to take Iraq through four changes of government. Funds were also reallocated to provide a $767 million increase in spending on Iraq's justice system. The money has gone toward building or renovating 10 medium- and maximum-security prisons -- early plans called for four prisons -- and for detention centers nationwide.
Tens of millions of dollars more are going to pay for courts, prosecutors and investigations. Millions are going to create safe houses for judges and for witness protection programs.
The criminal justice spending has been intertwined with the drive to try Hussein. The costs have been high, including $128 million to exhume and examine at least five mass grave sites.
A Gap in Perspective
The shifts in allocations have led Stuart Bowen, the inspector general in charge of tracking the $18.4 billion, to talk of a "reconstruction gap," or the difference between what Iraqis and Americans expected from the U.S. reconstruction effort at first and what they are seeing now.
The inspector general's office is conducting an audit to quantify the shortfall between expectations and performance, spokesman Jim Mitchell said.
McCoy, the Army Corps of Engineers commander for reconstruction, cites a poll conducted earlier last year that found less than 30 percent of Iraqis knew that any reconstruction efforts were underway. The percentage has since risen to more than 40 percent, McCoy said.
"It is easy for the Americans to say, 'We are doing reconstruction in Iraq,' and we hear that. But to make us believe it, they should show us where this reconstruction is," said Mustafa Sidqi Murthada, owner of a men's clothing store in Baghdad. "Maybe they are doing this reconstruction for them in the Green Zone. But this is not for the Iraqis."
"Believe me, they are not doing this," he said, "unless they consider rebuilding of their military bases reconstruction."
U.S. officials say comparatively minor sabotage to distribution systems is keeping Iraqis from seeing the gains from scores of projects to increase electricity generation and oil production. To showcase a rebuilt school or government building, meanwhile, is to invite insurgents to bomb it.
If 2006 brings political stability and an easing of the insurgency, Americans say, the distribution systems can be fairly easily repaired.
"The good news is this investment is not in any way lost; they're there," said Dan Speckhard, the director of the U.S. reconstruction management office in Iraq. "They will pay off, they will be felt, if not this month, then six months down the road."
While the Bush administration is not seeking any new reconstruction funds for Iraq, commanders here have military discretionary funds they can use for small reconstruction projects. The U.S. Agency for International Development is expected to undertake some building projects, as it does in 80 other countries, with money from the foreign appropriations bill.
Special correspondent Naseer Nouri contributed to this report.